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Modi-Sharif chemistry didn’t go beyond optics, Sushma Swaraj seeks brownie points on Twitter: Pak envoy Abdul Basit

Dialogue between Pakistan and India remains frozen since the audacious attack on Pathankot in 2016, which India believes was carried out by the Jaish-e-Mohammad, a terror outfit that draws its muscle from the Pakistani deep state.

india Updated: Aug 02, 2017 22:49 IST
Harinder Baweja
Harinder Baweja
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
India,Pakistan,Pathankot attack
Pakistan high commissioner Abdul Basit during the discussion for improving Indo-Pak Relation's programme, organised by Center for Peace and Progress in New Delhi, on April 11, 2017. (Mohd Zakir/HT File Photo)

Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and Nawaz Sharif had a good personal equation but that did not help India and Pakistan move beyond “optics”.

“Meetings between leaders are very important but the relationship couldn’t move beyond optics. We appreciate gestures and overtures but it didn’t lead to anything concrete,” outgoing Pakistan high commissioner Abdul Basit told Hindustan Times in an interview, shortly before demitting office on Wednesday.

Modi and Sharif shared a personal rapport after they first met at the Indian Prime Minister’s swearing-in in 2014. Modi also made an unscheduled halt in Lahore, while on his way back from Kabul the following year, and Sharif called his counterpart minutes before he was wheeled in for an intensive heart surgery in June last year.

Regretting that the two neighbours could not resume the dialogue process, Basit said that while talks were the only way forward, “we should not be expecting miracles”.

The two sides had agreed to resume the comprehensive dialogue when external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj had travelled to Islamabad for the Heart of Asia Conference in December, 2015 but the process was derailed after a terror attack at an air force base in Pathankot the next month.

The dialogue process remains frozen since the audacious attack at the sensitive base, which India believes was carried out by the Jaish-e-Mohammad, a terror outfit that draws its muscle from the Pakistani deep state.

India has linked the dialogue process with progress on investigations into the terror attacks in Mumbai and Pathankot. But Basit said, “We can also come up with a set of pre-conditions. India should have shown more patience and not linked the two.”

Asked to reflect on the state of relations between the two countries wherein Swaraj takes to social media to assert that her counterpart Sartaj Aziz does not even reply to letters she has personally addressed to him, Basit hit out, saying, “You make letters public for point scoring. This is not serious diplomacy, frankly. Why try and score brownie points. We need to get serious about the relationship. These things don’t inspire much confidence.”

Swaraj had taken to Twitter to reveal that Aziz had not bothered to reply to a letter in which she requested for a visa for the mother Kulbhushan Jadhav, a former Naval officer who has been sentenced to death in Pakistan for spying. She had also raised the issue of Aziz not signing off on visas for Pakistani citizens seeking medical assistance in India.

“We are not obliged to reply to everything, especially when it is sub judice. On one hand, India takes the Jadhav case to the ICJ and on the other, writes to our foreign advisor. Let us wait and see. And on medical visas, do you need such letters from foreign ministers of other countries? It is unjust to have a different rule for Pakistan,” Basit said.

The high commissioner also revealed that he met National Security Advisor Ajit Doval for a farewell visit earlier this week and suggested ways in which to break the India-Pakistan impasse.

First Published: Aug 02, 2017 17:31 IST